By Shamindra FerdinandoThe Sri Lankan government should carry out devolution process without any further delay to ensure post-LTTE national reconciliation, declared Lord Naseby PC.
Based on the recommendations made by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), too, called for devolution of powers to the provinces.
Addressing the media at the Colombo Hilton late last week, Naseby who is a member of the House of Lords of the UK parliament and Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sri Lanka, asserted that it would be a mistake on the part of the victorious GoSL to hold back the process. The failure on the part of the GoSL to move the process would strengthen the hands of those still pursuing Eelam project, he warned.
During his stay here, Naseby met the President, G.L. Peiris, Rauf Hakeem, Rishad Bathiudeen, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Basil Rajapaksa, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Douglas Devananda, the Bishop of Jaffna, the Governor of the Northern Province, Government Agent of Jaffna and Killinochchi, Jaffna Chamber of Commerce & Industry and UK High Commissioner.
Naseby also toured Hambantota, Galle, Jaffna, Vavuniya and Killinochchi.
While strongly criticizing the UK for throwing its weight behind US-led resolution targeting Sri Lanka at the recently concluded United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Naseby emphasized that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was key to post-war reconciliation process. "As I have been both a backbencher in the UK parliament and in Local Government, there is nothing more frustrating than the government deciding on everything. I understand that the 13th Amendment had been debated in parliament and the position of major parties, including the UNP and TNA are known," Naseby said.
The lawmaker also attacked UK media outfit, Channel 4, a section of the Tamil Diaspora and some countries of pursuing unsubstantiated war crimes allegations.
The British lawmaker quoted UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and TNA leader R. Sampanthan as having told him that their parties supported the implementation of the 13th Amendment. He said that several other UNP MPs, whom he had an opportunity to meet at a meeting in parliament subsequently confirmed Wickremesinghe’s stand.
Now that both UNP and TNA had reiterated their commitment to the 13th Amendment, President Mahinda Rajapaksa should go ahead with the devolution process.
Addressing the media ahead of a scheduled meeting with President Rajapaksa, Naseby expressed confidence that the Sri Lankan leader would act courageously and bravely as he did in meeting the threat of LTTE terrorism.
Commenting on the difficulties experienced by the GoSL with the regard to the implementation of the 13th Amendment, Naseby said that police and land powers remained contentious issues, though they needed to be tackled. Naseby asserted that the GoSL would have to start the devolution process at some point and giving Provincial Councils the authority over traffic police duties could be the answer.
Naseby emphasized the importance to the people realizing that the Northern Province wouldn’t receive anything that wasn’t given to other provincial councils.
He stressed the need to implement the 13th Amendment, restoration of civil administration and election to the Northern Provincial Council as critically important issues, which the government needed to address.
The government would have to realize that the TNA’s push for devolution was legitimate and wasn’t something the incumbent administration could turn a blind eye to, the lawmaker said.